AN ADDENDUM: Tips for Women

My dad's a blackbelt, and when he taught me to fight at a young age, he offered these useful tips. Keep in mind these largely assume that you're female, or that for some other reason you'll never be fighting for show like guys tend to do--these rules don't apply to male bonding brawls.

1. Don't fight unless you're raving mad. Fighting when you're only a bit pissed or showing off will guarantee that you won't move as fast as you need to, and that the blows you take will hurt more, because blind rage is what provides enough adrenaline to ignore most pain. Guys usually don't have as much trouble summoning that rage; for a woman, it takes a lot to get that pissed.

2. Don't talk once the fight has become a fight. No, once the fight is a fight (for me, when somebody puts their hands on me), all talking is off. Clench your teeth, so that you both remember to be quiet and also lessen the risk of having your teeth or jaw broken. Clenching your teeth also prevents you from biting your tongue off if you're hit in the mouth.

3. Take the first shot and make it good. If you're female, you have a built-in reason to believe that your opponent may be stronger than you or more experienced in scrapping. So as soon as you know you're fighting, take the nastiest shot open to you and take it full-force. The genitals are popular for girls fighting guys (and I've made that work as a first move). Other good ones are the eyes, the throat (especially with a punch or chop), the temple (especially with a bat), and the shins.

4. Don't stop till it's over. Never make the mistake of getting your opponent down and letting them back up. Once you stun them, keep beating the hell out of them until they stop moving or are so fucked up that you're positive they won't be fighting you anymore. Your opponent begging you to stop is NOT good enough--if they wanted you to stop before they got really hurt, they shouldn't have fucked with you in the first place. Beat 'em till they stop moving.

5. Carry a knife. This is my own advice to women, especially in situations where hostility is a possibility; my dad, however, agrees with it. A knife is a powerful advantage in a fight, especially if your opponent is unaware of it. And with a knife, unlike a gun, there isn't much danger of accidentally hurting someone you didn't intend to--and a knife also makes an invaluable purse-tool, too. Never, however, "hold" anybody at knifepoint unless you're sure of your ability to detain them--it's pretty easy to knock a knife away. I apply my knife to the other rules: I normally won't fight unless I'm mad enough to use the knife; I use it to get in devastating first shots, and it's a great way to incapacitate someone who's down or make sure that they guy who's "unconscious" really IS.

Yes, I know I sound vicious; and I do firmly believe that if you have the ability, you should avoid hurting people as much as you can. But that's a lot easier when you're a 200-lb guy swinging a six-inch meaty fist than when you're a hundred-pound white girl in Detroit. The first and foremost use of fighting is self-defense; while I understand that others might have different motives and situations that they fight for, I believe that the most important initial information to have about scrapping is how to incapacitate someone who's trying to hurt you.